Caritas Zambia is one of the leading Civil Society organisations in Zambia with both regional and international linkages. It permeates all Church structures from the National, through Dioceses up to Parish level. In the past three decades, the work of Caritas Zambia through the Episcopal Commissions for Justice and Peace and Development has contributed to national policy reforms, influenced governance practices and contributed to the improvement of livelihoods for the most vulnerable.
During disasters resulting from natural hazards like droughts and floods, Caritas has provided support to the affected households through relief and rehabilitation programmes. This is the work Caritas Zambia still continues to do through its programmes but strategically refocused to be relevant to the changing context.
Through its programmes, Caritas Zambia has been able to raise critical awareness of human rights and duties within Zambian society. Consequently, over the years, a social space for Civil Society Organisations involved in human rights work has been claimed and effectively used.
Caritas Zambia also works with regional and international structures of Justice and Peace in the AMECEA region and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. It is also a member of Caritas Internationalis and the Caritas Africa Region. Caritas Zambia is the current Coordinator of Caritas in the AMECEA Zone and thus is part of the Africa Regional Commission.
The previous Strategic Plan (2010 – 2013) was the third Caritas Zambia strategic plan since 2004. The strategic themes which Caritas Zambia has been focusing on over this period were mainly in the areas of Governance, Economic Justice, Poverty, Food Security, Gender, HIV and AIDS. In the 2010 - 2013 period, issues of the extractive industries, environment, and climate change picked great momentum.
The strategy which ended in December 2013 focused on four priority themes with the following noted as achievements under the mid-term evaluation:
Programme I: Economic and Environmental Justice: This programme promoted sustainable use of natural resources and targeted to influence economic policies for the benefit of the poor and vulnerable.
Programme II: Governance and Human Rights: The programme contributed to the empowerment of communities to participate in governance processes and be able to claim their rights. There was also successful work in budget tracking and expenditure monitoring as well as social accountability promotion. A lot was done in sensitizing MPs, CSOs and the general public on issues of extractive industries. There was strong engagement with parliament on various bills that have been presented to parliament with discernible evidence of influence. The robust campaign has also been consistently followed in the constitutional reforms processes.
Programme III: Sustainable Livelihoods: The programme promoted food and income security and disaster preparedness in the targeted areas. There was also marked achievement in the promotion of conservation farming and alternative livelihoods in communities (beekeeping, livestock keeping, vegetable growing and entrepreneurship skills).
Programme IV: Institutional Development: The programme built the internal institutional capacity of Caritas at all levels to be able to deliver on its mandate efficiently and effectively. Caritas Zambia has done well in staff development. This has resulted in an improvement in management oversight and programme animation.